CRIME VICTIM'S RIGHTS
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Crime Victimization Glossary
This Crime Victimization Glossary is a compilation of terms and definitions provided in various OVC resources, including:
- The Online Directory of Crime Victim Services
- National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA)
The list of terms, its sources, and the links to more information are provided for ease of reference and should not be interpreted as comprehensive and exhaustive to the field of crime victims’ services, victimology, or criminology.
The Glossary content is organized by—
This OVC-funded database provides access to victims’ rights statutes, tribal laws, constitutional amendments, court rules, administrative code provisions, and case summaries of related court decisions.
Crime Victims’ Rights Act. Enacted in October 2004, the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (part of the Justice for All Act) authorizes program efforts to—
- Help victims assert and encourage enforcement of victims’ rights.
- Promote compliance with victims’ rights laws.
- Fund grant programs and other activities to implement provisions.
- Provides an enforcement mechanism for rights delineated in the Act.
This Act also gives victims the following rights in federal criminal cases (18 U.S.C. section 3771):
(1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
(2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding or any parole proceeding involving the crime, or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
(5) The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
(7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
(8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy.
Case Law. Summaries of case law under the CVRA and state victims’ rights laws can be found in the VictimLaw database (see above) or on the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI) Web site under Cases of Interest.
Legal Information Institute: Law by Source - Federal Law Collection
Offers access to U.S. Federal legal documents (the U.S. Code, Supreme Court decisions, searchable index of U.S. Court of Appeals decisions, and the Code of Federal Regulations).
Resources of the National Conference of State Legislatures
With funding from OVC, the National Conference of State Legislatures has developed several resources on victims’ rights and services, primarily for state legislators, but also useful for victim advocates, criminal justice practitioners, and other allied professionals. The resources include an audio CD providing an overview of victims’ rights and services and an online guide to victims’ rights laws in the states.
THOMAS: Legislative Information on the Internet
Houses current U.S. Federal legislative information, such as Bills, laws, Congressional Record, and reports.
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). October 12, 2009, marked the 25th anniversary of the signing of the VOCA, developed in conjunction with the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime and the work of victim advocates. This federal law, passed by Congress in 1984 and amended in 1988, called for the establishment of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and created the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund), which provides funds to states for victim assistance and compensation programs that offer support and services to those affected by violent crimes.
Crime Victims’ Rights
Victim Notification System
The right to notification is supported in most states by Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) and the U.S. Department of Justice through the Victim Notification System (VNS).
VNS is a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Attorneys' offices, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Launched in 2001 as a pilot program with funding support from OVC, it became fully operational in 2002 under the development and oversight of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. This free, computer-based system provides important information to victims of federal crimes. In many cases crime victims will receive letters generated through VNS containing information about the events pertaining to the criminal case and/or any defendants in the case. This information is also available in English and Spanish on the Internet and through a toll-free telephone number (1-866-365-4968).
VINELink is the online version of VINE, a service through which victims of crime can use the telephone or Internet to search for information regarding their offender’s custody status and register to receive telephone and e-mail notification when their offender’s custody status changes. VINELink allows crime victims to obtain timely and reliable information about criminal cases and the custody status of offenders 24 hours a day.
Victim Rights’ Compliance
The Crime Victims’ Rights Act requires that within 1 year from the date of the Act’s enactment, the Attorney General designate an administrative authority within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to receive and investigate complaints relating to the provision or violation of crime victims’ rights by DOJ employees. In response, the DOJ established the Office of the Victims’ Rights Ombudsman. If a crime victim believes that a DOJ employee violated or failed to provide him/her with one or more of his/her rights, he/she may file a complaint. A crime victim includes any person who has been directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of a Federal offense or an offense in the District of Columbia.
Additional guidance regarding crime victims’ rights and remedies is available in the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance. The most recent edition incorporates the CVRA and guidance on the unique challenges of assisting victims of human trafficking and identity theft.
Type of Victim/Victimization
Adult molested as child
Adult age 18 or older who was sexually abused as a child (see child sexual abuse definition below).
Adult sexual assault
Sexual offense—including rape, incest, fondling, exhibitionism, or pornography—of an adult age 18 or older.
Unlawful, intentional causing of serious bodily injury with or without a deadly weapon, or unlawful, intentional attempting or threatening of serious bodily injury or death with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
Any willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling, house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, or personal property of another.
An unlawful attack by one person on another, with or without a weapon, that inflicts, or attempts or threatens to inflict, physical injury.
A person under the age of 18 or as otherwise defined by state law.
Child physical abuse
Nonaccidental injury to a child by a parent or other adult that may include severe beatings, burns, strangulation, or human bites.
Child sexual abuse
Sexual offense (see definition below) against a child by a parent or other adult.
Violent acts involving a current or former spouse or domestic partner.
Accident involving one or more motor vehicles in which at least one driver was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI) or was legally intoxicated (DWI) at the time of the crash.
Abuse perpetrated by a caretaker on an elderly individual who depends on others for support and assistance.
A deliberate deception perpetrated for unlawful or unfair gain.
Criminal acts committed by a group of three or more individuals who regularly engage in criminal activity and identify themselves with a common name or sign.
Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
A crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personal information, such as Social Security or driver's license numbers, to impersonate someone else.
Other, referring to types of victim served
Victims of nonviolent crime, such as burglary and white-collar crime.
Other violent crimes
Other crimes not listed, not including property crimes (which is the taking of money or property without force or threat of force).
Taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence.
Forcible rape, attempted rape, statutory rape, sexual harassment, prostitution, or other unlawful sexual contact and other unlawful behavior intended to result in sexual gratification or profit from sexual activity.
Any unwanted contact between two people that directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear.
Survivor of homicide victim
Family member or loved one of a murder victim.
Use of violence or intimidation to coerce a government or civilian population to further political or social objectives.
Victims with disabilities
Victims of crime who have a physical or mental disability.
Nonviolent crime for financial gain committed by means of deception by persons with special technical and professional knowledge of business or government.
Type of Service Provided
Assistance in filing compensation claims
Making victims aware of the availability of crime victim compensation (see definition below), helping victims complete required forms, and gathering needed documentation. May also include followup contact with the victim compensation agency on behalf of the victim.
Criminal justice support/advocacy
Support, assistance, and advocacy provided to victims at any stage of the criminal justice process, including postsentencing services and support.
In-person crisis intervention, emotional support, and guidance and counseling provided by advocates, counselors, mental health professionals, or peers. Such counseling may occur at the scene of a crime or immediately after a crime or be provided on an ongoing basis.
Crisis hotline counseling
Operation of a 24-hour telephone service, 7 days a week, which provides counseling, guidance, emotional support, and information and referral.
Emergency financial assistance
Cash outlays for such needs as transportation, food, clothing, and emergency housing.
Emergency legal advocacy
Filing of temporary restraining orders, injunctions, and other protective orders, elder abuse (see definition above) petitions, and child abuse (see definition above) petitions. Does not include criminal prosecution or the employment of attorneys for such nonemergency purposes as custody disputes and civil suits.
In-person contacts, telephone contacts, and written communications with victims to offer emotional support, provide empathetic listening, and check on a victim's progress.
Coordination and provision of supportive group activities, which include self-help, peer, and social support.
Information and referral (in-person)
In-person contact with crime victim to identify available services and support.
Information and referral (telephone)
Telephone contact with crime victim to identify available services and support.
Other, referring to services provided
Other services and activities allowed under the 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).
Assisting victims in securing rights, remedies, and services from other agencies; locating emergency financial assistance and intervening with employers, creditors, and others on behalf of the victim; assisting in filing for losses covered by public and private insurer programs, including workers' compensation, unemployment benefits, and public assistance; and accompanying the victim to the hospital.
Guidelines for stalking victims that, if implemented, may reduce the odds of physical or emotional harm from a stalker.
Short- and long-term housing and related support services for victims and families following a victimization.
Contact between a noncustodial party and one or more children in the presence of a third person, either paid or unpaid, who is responsible for observing and, to the greatest extent possible, providing a safe environment for those involved.
Intensive professional, psychological, psychiatric, or other counseling-related treatment for individuals, couples, and family members to provide emotional support in crisis arising from the occurrence of crime. Includes the evaluation of mental health needs and the delivery of psychotherapy.
Transport service either to or from a victim service agency.
Payment or reparations made to a crime victim.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language.4th ed. 2000. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Comer, R. 1998. Abnormal Psychology.3d ed. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
Criminal Justice Today Glossary. Retrieved July 11, 2003.
Criminal Law Glossary. Retrieved July 11, 2003.
Criminology Today Glossary. Retrieved July 11, 2003.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States—2001. Uniform Crime Reports. Retrieved July 11, 2003.
The National Center for Victims of Crime. Stalking Resource Center. Safety Plan Guidelines. Retrieved July 11, 2003.
National Criminal Justice Reference Service. In the Spotlight: Gangs: Related Resources. Retrieved July 11, 2003.
Sacramento CourtAppointed Special Advocate Program. Access to Visitation Program Overview. Retrieved July 11, 2003.
Subgrant Award Report Form, OJP ADMIN FORM 7980/2A (REV. 11–95). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime.
U.S.Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report. Retrieved July 11, 2003.
Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary.Revised edition. 1996. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Aiding and Abetting
Similar to civil conspiracy, when someone, not the actual perpetrator, so significantly contributes to the criminal operation as to be considered liable for their actions.
To go in a secretive manner out of the jurisdiction of the courts, or to lie concealed, in order to avoid their process.
Formal written responses to the defendants/perpetrators file in response to plaintiff's complaints. These pleadings may deny some or all of the allegations; they may raise defenses such as self-defense or assumption of risk, or they may allege that even if all of the plaintiff's allegations are true, there is no liability. These pleadings are usually accompanied by legal memoranda and briefs. The names of the pleadings vary from jurisdiction. "Demurrers," "motions for summary judgment," motions to dismiss," and "answers" are all descriptions of a responsive pleading.
A cause of action for intentionally putting the victim in fear of a battery, coupled with the apparent ability to commit the battery.
Assumption of Risk
A legal doctrine that may relieve perpetrators of liability for injuries to victims if the victim voluntarily entered into a situation knowing that there was a risk of foreseeable injury.
Insurance policies that cover injuries "arising out of the use, operation, or maintenance" of the vehicle.
The intentional, offensive, unpermitted touching of the victim by the perpetrator.
Burden of Proof
The threshold of evidence that one party must present in order to prevail in his or her case. In criminal cases, the burden of proof is very high: "beyond a reasonable doubt," or generally 99 percent of the evidence. In civil cases, however, the burden of proof on the victim/plaintiff is "a mere preponderance," or more than 50 percent of the evidence.
Causes of Action
The legal basis for a civil lawsuit.
Lawsuits filed by victims to recover from injuries sustained and damages incurred as a result of the perpetrator's crime.
See Aiding and Abetting.
A legal doctrine which provides that, in some cases, the criminal conviction of perpetrators will be considered proof of those perpetrator’s legal liability in civil actions brought by the perpetrator's victims.
A general term meaning the extent to which defendants/perpetrators have the financial means to pay judgments from assets on hand, assets reasonably to be expected in the future, or financial assistance from such sources as insurance coverage.
The more prevalent approach to reducing amounts paid to plaintiffs/victims allowing partially negligent plaintiffs/victims to recover damages from defendants/perpetrators, however, reducing the amounts of the award by the applicable percentage of the plaintiff's/victim's own negligence (see also: Contributory Negligence).
Monetary reparations made to crime victims by a state or a governmental entity to recover "out-of-pocket" expenses incurred as a result of a crime.
Damages paid to compensate victims for losses caused by the torts of the perpetrator. Such losses include out-of-pocket expenses; loss of income; expenses such as medical bills, therapy, and funeral costs; loss of present and future earning capacity; conscious pain and suffering; financial support; and "consortium," the loss of the affection and society of loved ones
The formal written pleading filed in a civil court alleging that the defendant(s) injured the plaintiff(s), and that the defendant(s) should be liable for damages caused.
A legal doctrine, now modified in most jurisdictions, that any negligence on the part of the plaintiff/victim will bar civil lawsuits against defendant/perpetrator.
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Cases in which the state prosecutes perpetrators of criminal acts, committed in violation of the state's laws.
Amounts of money awarded to winning parties in civil suits expressed in a judgment.
Parties against whom civil actions are brought.
Legal doctrines that relieve defendant/perpetrator of liability for having committed a tort.
Delayed Discovery Rule
A legal doctrine that suspends the running of statutes of limitations during periods of time in which the victims did not discover, or by the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have discovered, the injuries that would lead to their causes of action against the defendant/perpetrator.
Pretrial proceedings in which attorneys for parties in a civil case have the opportunity to examine, under oath, the opposing parties and potential witnesses in the case. Depositions are sworn and reduced to writing. The transcripts may be admissible in evidence at trials if the witnesses are no longer available, or for purposes of impeachment.
First Party Action
Lawsuits brought by victims directly against their perpetrators.
General Liability Insurance
Insurance policies covering whatever losses are enumerated in the policy.
Broad-based insurance policy that contracts to protect the insured from enumerated causes of accidental injuries to others. The accidents usually are not confined to acts that happen on the insured’s "home" premises but also includes accidents that happen elsewhere. Renters of premises can obtain Renter’s Insurance.
The individual who has contracted to receive insurance coverage from the Insurer whose actions are otherwise covered by an insurance policy.
The business entity which has contracted to provide insurance coverage to the insured.
The formal recitations of the outcomes of civil cases. They are almost always reduced to writing, and recorded as a part of the file.
A legal doctrine providing that one may be liable to another if (1) he or she owes a legal duty to the other; (2) he or she materially breaches that duty; (3) the breach is the proximate cause of the other's injury; and (4) the other person suffers damages.
A tort in which one or more persons give, lend, or allow someone to use, or should have anticipated that the person would use, a dangerous instrumentality to injure another.
A legal doctrine that holds parents civilly liable for the torts and crimes of their children.
Persons who have criminally injured victims.
Party bringing civil actions. In the case of victim civil remedies, the victim is the plaintiff.
Professional Liability Insurance
Insurance coverage issued to professional persons: doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, etc., to cover any losses caused by malpractice in the course of their professional services.
A legal doctrine that may excuse defendant/perpetrator from the consequences of his/her crime/tort if the plaintiff/victim instigated a confrontation, or otherwise caused or provoked the defendant's actions.
The "cause in fact" of injury to victims; a "cause" without which the victim's injuries would not have occurred.
Damages awarded to victims against perpetrators, over and above compensatory damages, in order to punish or make an example of perpetrators.
See Homeowner’s Insurance.
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A legal doctrine that allows one to recover for injuries suffered in coming to the rescue or assistance of others in peril. It is used as a counter to the defense of Assumption of Risk.
Court action that requires perpetrators to make financial payments to their victims, usually as a condition of probation or leniency in sentencing.
The legal doctrine which relieves defendants/perpetrators of liability for torts if they acted in the reasonable belief that they had to use force to defend themselves, or others (loved ones, etc.), from death or great bodily harm.
Agreements among the parties to lawsuits to end the suits without trial; usually the plaintiff agrees to drop the lawsuit for a fixed sum of monetary damages paid by the defendant.
Statute of Limitations
Periods of time, set by law, after which civil actions cannot be brought.
Third Party Actions
Lawsuits brought against persons whose negligence or gross negligence has facilitated the commission of a tort by a defendant.
Tolling of Statutes of Limitations
The running of statutes of limitations is suspended.
Civil or private wrongs (as opposed to criminal offenses) committed by perpetrators against victims.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists
State law usually makes it compulsory that drivers have enough insurance to cover damages if they, or others defined in the policies, are injured by motorists who have no insurance, or not enough insurance, to cover injuries that they have caused.
Persons who have been injured by the criminal acts of perpetrators.
The civil action for the killing of one human by another, without justification or excuse.
Victim's Terms Glossary
Jump to terms beginning with the letter: A B C D E F G H I J M N O P R S T V W
ACCUSED: A person who has been charged with committing a crime but has not yet been tried.
ACQUITTAL: A judgment finding a defendant not guilty of committing a certain criminal offense.
ADJUDICATE: To determine judicially, adjudge, reach a judicial decision.
APPEAL: To take a case to a higher court for review of the correctness of the rulings or the decisions of a trial court.
ARRAIGNMENT: The initial court hearings at which the accused is brought before a judge, told the charges against him/her and asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES: Facts tending to increase the severity of an offense.
ARREST: To take a person suspected of committing a crime into legal custody so that he/she can be charged with committing the crime.
BAIL: A sum of money required of the defendant to secure freedom until the date of trial or hearing. The purpose of bail is to ensure that the accused shows up at court. If he or she does not appear, the money is forfeited to the court.
BENCH WARRANT: Process issued by the Court for the attachment or arrest of a defendant who does not obey a subpoena.
BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT: The standard for the burden of proof placed on the prosecution in a criminal case. Reasonable doubt, as the name implies, is a doubt for which one can give a reason. It is such a doubt as would cause a juror, after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence, to be so undecided that he/she cannot say that he/she has an abiding conviction of the defendant’s guilt. It is such a doubt as would cause a reasonable person to hesitate or pause. It is not a fanciful or a whimsical doubt, nor a doubt based on conjecture. It is based on reason. The government is not required to establish guilt beyond all doubt, or to a mathematical or a scientific certainty. Its burden is to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
BIND OVER: The process whereby a felony case is transferred to a court once the defendant has been indicted.
BURDEN OF PROOF: The requirement that a particular party, who is the proponent of a factual proposition, must persuade the trier of fact (judge or jury) by evidence of the truth of his/her proposition in a criminal case. The burden of proof is on the prosecution.
CHARGE: An accusation made against the accused that he/she committed the crime.
CITATION: A call or summons to appear in court on a given day.
CIVIL DISABILITIES: The way in which those who have "paid their debt to society" have their rights lifted after a conviction. Voting and license eligibility, certain jobs, and ability to run for certain offices may be limited by different states. Usually, individuals may be released from these only by obtaining sworn statements from reputable individuals attesting to the "rehabilitation" of the offender. Release does not erase the record of conviction.
COMPLAINT: Brought by a citizen or police officer, this is the formal charge which institutes proceedings against the defendant in the trial court.
CONTEMPT OF COURT: If one fails to obey the verbal order from a judge and if the order was proper, one may be evicted or arrested for disruption or contempt of court.
CONTINUANCE: The case is not heard on the assigned date, but is postponed to a later date. Continuances are allowed at the court’s discretion at the request of the prosecutor or the defendant.
CONVICTION: A judgment finding the defendant guilty of committing a certain criminal offense.
COURT: An agency of the judicial branch of the government, with constitutional authority to decide questions of law and disputes brought before it.
COURT OF RECORD: A court in which a verbatim record of the proceedings is kept, either by stenographic means or electrical devices. This is necessary if there is the possibility of an appeal.
CRIMINAL LAW: The law relating to crimes. The general theory of "common law" is that all wrongs are divisible into two categories: (1) civil or private wrongs, which are called "torts" and (2) criminal or public wrongs, which are called crimes. Torts are remedied by civil actions, usually brought by private persons. Crimes are remedied by criminal prosecutions, brought by a public official (prosecutor). A wrong may be both a tort and a crime; for example, embezzlement, in which the victim may sue for damages for the amount embezzled, and the offender is subject to punishment.
CROSS EXAMINATION: The questioning in trial or a hearing of a witness by the party or parties (or their counsel) other than the party initially calling the witness to the witness stand, immediately following direct examination.
DEFAULT: A situation where the defendant has failed to appear in court at the designated time.
DEFENDANT: A person who has been charged with committing a crime and is now on trial.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The lawyer for the defendant/accused.
DEFERRED PROSECUTION: An individual has been charged with a criminal offense; however, the defendant does not enter a plea and prosecution of the charge is withheld for a period of time, during time which defendant is placed under supervision of the Probation Department. If the defendant makes a satisfactory adjustment, the original charges filed against the defendant are dismissed.
DELINQUENT: A delinquent means any child (of an age determined by law) who has violated any federal or state law except traffic or game or fish law regulations.
DETENTION: After arrest and booking at the police station, the defendant is put in a lockup or detention cell until taken to court for a hearing, usually no more than 72 hours. "Pre-trial" detention is keeping the defendant in jail until the trial, either because he/she could not make bail or because he/she was found to be too dangerous to be released.
DISMISS/DISMISSAL: An order of the court terminating the prosecution of a case by ordering the charges against the defendant dropped. The prosecution may or may not be able to re-file the charges, depending on the nature of the order.
DISPOSITION: If the jury or judge has found the defendant guilty of the charge on which he or she is being tried, the judge must determine what penalty shall be imposed. This is the disposition of the sentencing phase of the trial. In some states, the judge may sentence the defendant to a specified facility, or to the Department of Corrections only. The defendant has a right to the presence of an attorney at this phase. A court officer usually submits a pre-sentence report on which the judge bases his/her decision.
DIVERSION: Essentially, this is pre-prosecution probation made available to the lesser offender as an alternative to standard criminal prosecution. The decision to divert is a joint decision of the district attorney and the court when it appears that both society and the defendant will benefit by involving the defendant in a meaningful rehabilitation program, thereby avoiding deleterious effects that normal criminal prosecution has on the offender and the resources of the justice system. Diversion is accomplished by deferred sentencing and deferred prosecution. It is sometimes administered after a guilty plea is entered, which plea is expunged (removed) from the defendant’s records if he/she meets the terms of the diversion.
DOCKET: Also called a "day book." The list of cases heard in court each day or the names of persons who have cases pending. May also include a list of the charges, the amount of bail (if any), how posted, lawyers and witnesses, how the action was initiated (by arrest, warrant or summons), complainant’s name, dates of each significant proceeding, disposition of the case, etc.
DUE PROCESS OF LAW: The exercise of the powers of government under safeguards to protect individual rights. There are two recognized forms: procedural and substantive. Procedural due process includes notice of charges and an opportunity to defend or be heard in an orderly proceeding. Substantive due process includes the liberty to pursue a chosen vocation or education, freedom to marry or contract, etc. The right to due process is protected by the Fifth Amendment (federal protection) and by the Fourteenth Amendment (state protection).
EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW: A phrase found in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring application of state laws and access to the courts must be available to all persons without arbitrary limitations. Any law involving a classification of some type (race, sex, age, etc.) may be challenged and evaluated as to its reasonableness in accomplishing a legitimate state goal.
EXCLUSIONARY RULE: The exclusion from trial of any evidence that was illegally obtained. Any evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be used in any state or federal court.
EVIDENCE: Testimony and objects presented in court by the prosecutor and the defense.
FELONY: A crime more serious than a misdemeanor. Generally, a felony is punishable by imprisonment in a penitentiary for at least one year.
GRAND JURY: A group of citizens who hear evidence presented by the prosecutor and decide whether there is enough evidence to charge and try the accused for one or more felonies. In many states, prosecutors do not have to use a grand jury, but may themselves file felony charges in an "information."
GUILTY: A decision of a judge or jury in a criminal case that the accused committed the crime he/she was charged with.
GUILTY PLEA: A statement by the accused that he/she is guilty of the crime he/she was charged with.
HABEAS CORPUS: A writ addressed to one who has a person in custody, commanding him to produce the person, i.e., "have the body," before the court at a certain time. The purpose of the writ is to test the legality of the detention.
HEARINGS: In a crime that is not indictable (a "summary offense"), the judge may hear a case and dispose of it at the preliminary level. A preliminary hearing includes the prosecutor’s evidence that a felony has been committed and that the accused is probably the one who committed it. A defense lawyer may examine any witness the prosecution calls. The judge decides whether there is a prima facie case requiring a grand jury investigation or prosecutor’s "information." Other hearings are called to rule on admissible evidence or other legal matters prior to the trial.
HUNG JURY: A jury that is unable to reach a unanimous agreement on a verdict.
INDICTMENT: Instead of an indictment by a grand jury, the prosecutor’s office can bring charges by filing a bill of information. Most charges are filed this way.
INJUNCTION: A judicial order requiring the party enjoined to take or refrain from taking some specified action.
INVESTIGATION: The gathering of evidence by police and prosecutors to seek to prove the accused committed or did not commit the crime.
JUDGE: A person who presides over a court of law.
JURY: A group of citizens who hear the evidence presented in court and decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty. MATTER OF FACT: An actual happening, thing done, or event, which is often said to be a question for the jury in a jury trial.
MATTER OF LAW: A principle or rule of duty to be decided by a judge.
MISDEMEANOR: A crime that is less serious than a felony and is usually punishable by one year or less in jail and/or a fine. Misdemeanors include offenses such as petty theft, most traffic violations, and possession of marijuana.
MISTRIAL: A trial that ends when the jury cannot decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty, or when a legal procedure is violated.
MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES: Facts tending to lessen the severity of an offense.
MOTION: An oral or written request to the judge asking the judge to make a decision or take a specific action.
NOLO CONTENDRE: A pleading, usually by defendants in criminal cases, which literally means, "I will not contest it." It is similar to a guilty plea, but has the benefit of not admitting wrongdoing in any related civil trial. The judge must approve this plea and does so usually under extenuating circumstances or a first offense.
NOT GUILTY PLEA: A statement by the accused denying that he/she committed the crime.
OFFENDER: A person who has been convicted of crime.
"PAPERING": Also may be known as "screening." The decision made by the prosecutor on whether there is enough evidence to file charges against the accused.
PAROLE: Conditional release from prison before the end of the maximum sentence. Violation results in being returned to custody, pending a hearing to determine if a violation occurred and if the defendant did it.
PERJURY: A lie told while a person is under oath to tell the truth.
PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE: An obligation of record entered into before a court requiring the performance of an act such as appearing in court as instructed. In other words, a person makes a pledge to the court that he/she will return before the court as instructed, and should he/she fail to do so, he/she is remanded to jail.
PLEA: A defendant’s formal answer in court denying or admitting that he/she committed a crime.
PLEA BARGAIN: A compromise whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a charge in return for a reduction of other charges. Plea bargaining is a function of prosecutorial discretion. Factors considered are: whether the defendant is a serious threat to the community, the nature of the crime and the probability of conviction.
PRECEDENT: The decision of an earlier judge in an earlier, similar case, used as an authority to determine later facts of questions of law. They are derived from appellate decisions.
PRELIMINARY HEARING: A hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to hold the accused for a grand jury hearing.
PRE-SENTENCE INVESTIGATION (REPORT): A social study made by Probation Officers at the discretion of the judge to: (1) gain understanding of the convicted offender, (2) discover circumstances surrounding the offense, and (3) make recommendation to the court for action on the sentence or disposition.
PRIMA FACIE CASE: A case which has proceeded upon sufficient proof to that stage where it will supporting a finding if evidence to the contrary is disregarded; a case where evidence in one’s favor is strong enough for his/her opponent to be called upon to answer.
PRISON: An institution run by the state or federal justice systems for the confinement of offenders convicted of felonies. From some prisons, offenders may earn parole.
PROBABLE CAUSE: The amount of proof needed by the police, the prosecutors, and the judge to believe that a crime was committed and the accused committed it. It is a standard of proof less onerous than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
PROBATION: A method of allowing a person convicted of an offense to go at large under suspension of sentence, usually under the supervision of a probation officer, for a period of time.
PRO SE: Any party who acts for himself or herself in court, without counsel.
PROSECUTOR: In a criminal case, the lawyer representing the government, the people of that jurisdiction, and the victim.
PUBLIC DEFENDER: An attorney employed by the government to represent defendants who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer.
RECIDIVISM RATE: The relative number of prisoners who, after being released, return to prison or jail because they have committed another crime.
REFEREE: A person, not a judge, who performs the judicial function of determining facts and making findings, and then makes recommendations for action to a judge.
RESTITUTION: The act of restoring; restoration of anything to its rightful owner; the act of making good by giving the equivalent for any loss, damages or injury. A restitution order is an increasingly used sentencing sanction.
REVOCATION: A decision to withdraw probation, parole or privileges in a particular case.
SENTENCE: The accused person’s punishment after being convicted of a crime.
SENTENCING: Takes place after the verdict of "guilty" has been pronounced, usually at another time, and, in most felonies, is based on the pre-sentence report(s) submitted to the judge by the probation staff.
STATUS HEARINGS: Court hearings to make sure that both the prosecution and defense are ready for trial.
SUMMONS: A notice requiring appearance in court on a specific day at a given time. It means that a complaint, civil or criminal, has been made.
SUBPOENA: A written order calling for an individual’s presence in court in a situation involving someone else. A judge or prosecutor generally issues the subpoena.
SUSPECT: A person who is thought to have committed a crime and is under investigation, but who has not been arrested or charged.
TESTIMONY: Statements made in court by witnesses who are under oath to tell the truth.
TORT: Any private or civil wrong, by act or omission, for which a civil suit can be brought.
TRIAL: A court proceeding before a judge or a jury at which evidence is presented to decide whether or not the accused committed the crime.
TRIAL DE NOVO: A new trial conducted as if no previous trial had occurred.
TRIER OF FACT: The body who has the responsibility for determining the truth of a factual proposition. In a trial in a court, it is the judge; in a jury trial, it is the jury.
VENIRE: An order to an office to select and deliver jurors to the court.
VERDICT: The decision of a jury, finding the defendant guilty or innocent.
VICTIM: An individual against whom a crime or an attempted crime was committed, or the family or a close friend of an individual who was murdered.
VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT: A form used by the judge at the time of sentencing that allows victims to describe the physical, emotional, financial and social impact of the crime on their lives and families. Many states permit victims to deliver impact statements personally, in open court.
WAIVER: A voluntary decision by a defendant to eliminate a legal procedure for which he/she has a right.
WARRANT: A legal order, usually signed by a judge, authorizing either an arrest or a search of a given person or place, for items that must be described with particularity.
WITNESS: A person who has seen or knows something about the crime. The victim is usually a witness, too.
WITNESS CONFERENCE: A discussion among the victim, witness(es) and the prosecutor to prepare for trial.
WRIT: An order from the court.
This glossary was based on a document initially developed by Susan Dryovage, Co-Director of the Boulder, Colorado, Justice System Volunteer Program and The Council for Court Excellence in Washington, D.C., in 1989. It has been expanded and updated.
Norman Rockwell- Jury Room (a.k.a. The Holdout)
(originally published on LewRockwell.com)
Citizens in our (once) free republic founded under the English common law system, have both the power and the right to vote according to conscience when they sit on a jury and can vote not guilty even in the face of the law and in the face of the evidence. The defendant also has a right to expect that his jury will be fully informed of their rightful power to vote “not guilty” if they believe justice requires it, regardless of the evidence. Anything less is not a real jury trial.
The jury issues no opinion, gives no explanation of its decision. It simply renders its verdict, and if the verdict is “not guilty,” that acquittal cannot be questioned or overturned by any court. It is telling that a conviction can be overturned, but an acquittal cannot – the deck is stacked on the side of the liberty of the individual on trial. While a judge can overturn a jury conviction that in his judgment is unsupported by the evidence, or where the jury harbors prejudicial animus toward the defendant, the judge cannot overturn an acquittal even if the evidence is overwhelming – even if the defendant admits on the stand that he did the actions of which he is accused.
A landmark case in jury history is that of William Penn, the Quaker preacher who would later found Pennsylvania. He was put on trial in England for the “crime” of preaching a non-government approved religion on a public street corner. He did not deny that he had preached as a Quaker. He proudly proclaimed it. There was no doubt that English law at the time considered his actions criminal. That too was plain. And yet, the jury acquitted him in spite of the obvious, undisputed facts, and in the face of the clear law. That jury was initially held in contempt and jailed by the trial judge, but on appeal, the English appellate courts ruled that the jury has an absolute power to acquit despite the facts and in the face of the law, and that it cannot be punished for exercising its power. That acquittal helped to establish the free practice of religion.
The same was true in the celebrated Zenger trial in the American colonies, where Zenger, a newspaper editor, did not deny he had published an editorial severely criticizing the royal governor. The facts were undisputed. Under English law at the time, mere criticism of government officials, even if true, was still considered libel, and could be punished. And yet, despite both the law and the facts being abundantly clear, the jury acquitted Zenger. That acquittal helped establish legal protection for freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, such that only knowingly false statements can be considered libel.
The Fugitive Slave laws criminalized the underground railroad. Abolitionists accused of helping runaway slaves were often set free by sympathetic jurors voting according to conscience, nullifying the law.
One way to think of the jury is that it is effectively a fourth branch of government, sovereign in its own realm. Separation of powers requires that its powers and immunities remain inviolate. In this sense, the jury has as much a power to set even a “guilty” man free as a governor using the power of clemency, or as a President using his “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment” under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. That power is also absolute, except in cases of impeachment.
It’s telling that modern power elites don’t scream and yell about governors and Presidents having such an absolute power to set even a clearly “guilty” man free. When fellow elites within government do it, it is accepted. But when the people, as a jury, do precisely the same thing, elites gnash their teeth and shrilly warn of impending chaos and anarchy (as if that were a bad thing!), crying crocodile tears about all the supposed injustice that will result if the jury does something similar to what governors and presidents do at will.
The plain fact is our entire legal system was originally designed to favor liberty, with discretion built in at every level, from the beat cop, to the prosecutor (who has a responsibility to see that justice is done, and that sometimes means not prosecuting even in a clear case), to the jury, to the judges who can overturn an unjust conviction (such as by ruling the law to be unconstitutional as applied), to the governor and/or President who can overturn even a “just” conviction and set a certifiably guilty man free. As Hamilton stated in Federalist 74, in reference to the power of Pardon:
“The criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”
Just so. And as it is with the power of pardon, so it is with the power of the jury.
The scales of justice are meant to be tipped on the side of liberty, with “easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt” built in at each step.
Another way of looking at the jury is that it is much like the militia, since it too is a vital public institution where the people directly participate by being their own guardians. A people who are their own guardians in the militia cannot be tyrannized, however bloodthirsty a usurping tyrant may be. Likewise, a people who are their own judges of guilt, their own judges of the law as applied to that case, and their own guardians of the liberty of their fellows by serving on a jury, cannot be tyrannized, however bloodthirsty the minions of the usurping state may be. When a jury is aware of its power, they can stop the state cold, however much it lusts for convictions.
That absolute power to nullify has always been the jury’s power – it is, in fact, the very core of what a jury does. When I (Stewart) was a student at Yale Law School, my procedure professor, Owen Fiss, openly acknowledged that a jury is not merely a fact finder. He pointed out that if that were all a jury were for, we could have professional fact finding juries, made up of forensic experts, handwriting analysis experts, voice analysis experts, etc. who would be far more “efficient” fact finders, working together on one case after another.
Though Professor Fiss, being an elitist liberal, didn’t trust juries and instead considered judges “the “embodiment of public reason” (I know, I know, amazing that someone so brilliant can be so blind), he was at least honest enough to admit that the jury is there to serve as a populist, peoples’ check on government power. It didn’t make sense any other way. What Professor Fiss could not see is that the virtue of the jury is precisely the fact that it does not come from some elite segment of society out of touch with the “unwashed masses.” It is made up of average people who will never sit together again on the same jury. They come together only once, to do justice and then to depart. The jury is not a repeat player in the system, like judges, lawyers, and hired-gun expert witnesses. It cannot be influenced by special interests, it has no institutional turf to defend, no reason to go along to get along with backroom deals, and no desire to rack up a conviction record to further political ambitions.
And the real purpose of that unique, independent assembly of average people is to stand in between an accused and the mighty state, as the last shield against tyranny short of recourse to arms. And like David standing in front of Goliath, it does not matter how powerful the state is, however air-tight its case, however artfully it has stacked the laws against the accused, however unconstitutional its manipulations, however blood-thirsty its prosecutors, or however complicit its judges. However much the state wants to strip the life, liberty, or property from the lone defendant, it can still be stopped by that one jury. Just a handful of citizens, if they know their true power, can grind the machine to a halt, and stop it cold, at least in that one case … if they but know of their own power.
And therein lies the problem. Though that absolute power to acquit is part and parcel of traditional trial by jury – is in fact inseparable from it – judges, prosecutors and the power elite have always resented this fact and have tried to suppress it. In effect, there has long been a power struggle between the people, seeking to preserve their rights and powers, and established state power seeking to usurp the power of the people and to enhance its own power. Despite the clear, well settled power of the jury to acquit, willful judges have cleverly argued that while the jury has the absolute power to acquit, they don’t have a right to (so say the crafty judges) and so judges are not required to tell the jury of the power it clearly has. But they don’t just omit that information, they actively mislead the jury by telling them the opposite – that they must convict if they find such and such facts to have been proven, that they must follow the law as the judge explains it, and that they may only consider the evidence presented to them. In other words, the judges, and the prosecutors, lie to the juries.
First, during jury selection (voir dire) the jurors are grilled by the prosecutor and the defense attorneys, and are often asked very intrusive personal questions. Seeking the lowest common denominator, prosecutors and judges eliminate intelligent, aware people, who are routinely eliminated via “pre-emptive strikes” which require no explanation, or “for cause.”
And, an increasingly common question is something like: Do you believe that the jury can judge the law? Have you heard of jury nullification? Can you agree to set aside your own convictions and follow the law, and convict the defendant if the evidence proves guilt? If you wish to avoid jury duty, an answer to the effect that Yes, you do understand your right to vote your conscience, will get you sent home. But, if instead, you wish to be seated, what should you do? First, say as little as possible. Do not volunteer information.
So, if the judge asks you if you can apply the law as he explains it, say “Yes.” You may believe the judge when he says “this is what the law is” (though judges will disagree on points of law) but no one can force you to convict against your conscience and better judgment. Certainly you can follow the judge’s instructions, so you are not lying by saying “yes” when asked that question, but you also know the well established truth that you can also acquit even in the face of the law as given by the judge, and in spite of the facts. You can just keep that knowledge to yourself without volunteering it.
Some may call this taking a “mental reservation” as in, Question: “Can you follow my instructions on the law?” Answer: “Yes” – but with a mental reservation (to yourself) of: I may believe your description of the statute law, but the higher law is the Constitution, if there is a conflict.
Others see it as simply retaining the knowledge of the fact that a jury can acquit even in the face of the judge’s instructions – which is well settled law. No acquittal can be overturned, even if the jury didn’t follow the law. The statute law may be as the judge describes it, but the judge has no power to dictate a verdict of “guilty” to the jury. If the judge requires an “oath” of the jurors which requires them to follow the law as given by the judge and to convict if the facts are proven, that oath is a false oath and is not enforceable.
As the Penn trial established hundreds of years ago, jurors may not be punished for their verdict. An attempt to punish a Colorado juror (Laura Kriho) with contempt of court for not being forthright during jury selection questioning (voir dire) ended when she was released by an appeals court ruling.
However, what has occasionally happened is that seated jurors have been dismissed for refusing to discuss a possibility of finding the defendant guilty, taking a clear jury nullification stance. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held, in 1997, that if you insist that you will acquit regardless of the evidence, you can be removed for being “incapable” of being impartial. However, if you express “reasonable doubt” about the evidence, or the credibility of the witnesses and informants, or the credibility of the police, in addition to questioning whether the law itself is unjust, the judge cannot remove you from the jury, because they can’t prove that you were determined to acquit regardless of the evidence. You might also suspect that evidence favorable to the defense has been withheld from the jury.
Jurors should be aware that if an acquittal is not possible, a hung jury is an acceptable outcome if a juror believes it necessary to prevent a conviction that would be unjust. A series of hung juries sends a signal to the legislature and to prosecutors that a significant portion of the population does not support that law. A mistake jurors sometimes make is to throw the prosecution a bone by convicting the defendant on a “lesser charge.” (Prosecutors often multiply charges on the hope that something will stick, and to encourage a plea bargain.) That can cost the defendant years in prison if the judge so decides at sentencing. If justice requires it, nothing short of an acquittal or hung jury on all counts is appropriate. It can take intestinal fortitude to stand alone but a single juror can hang the jury.
The power of the jury to vote according to conscience and judge the merits, fairness, constitutionality and applicability of the law itself, is the only real, undiluted power the individual citizens have in our system of government. If we are engaged in a struggle for our fundamental rights against governments on all levels, and we are, then we must view our role as partisan guerrillas, and we have a powerful yet peaceful tool at our disposal. It has been hidden from us, and we are intimidated into thinking it is not our right, but if we will summon the courage to grasp it, we can use jury veto power, or jury nullification, as a weapon in defense of liberty.
Frankly, when awake and aware lovers of liberty choose not to serve on a jury, they are leaving the battlefield with Goliath still standing, jeering at them as they walk away. By not serving, they are denying to themselves one of the critical “boxes of freedom” and a chance to sling one right between Leviathan’s eyes. If they don’t take that shot, what is left? Not much. The ballot box is a joke, the soap box, while still there, is also under relentless attack, with mainstream media now nothing more than Mordor’s mouthpiece. Why give up the jury box to the enemy? You know what comes next.
Serving on a jury should be viewed as a form of liberty guerrilla warfare in the current “soft” or cold war between the forces of liberty and the forces of tyranny. We’d better use it while we can before the war goes hot. Besides, It’s good practice. We need to exercise our liberty muscles and our own cunning and resolve in the face of adversity. Step into the ring!
We must close with the enemy and battle him in every arena, including in the courtroom. Give Leviathan no safe place, no place to let down his guard, and instead take the fight straight to him in a place where he thought he was supreme and could not be defeated. One juror, just one, can shut down all the gears, all the levers, and all the apparatus of unjust power, and make it stop. One juror can throw a critical monkey-wrench into the works. And if enough jurors do that, the cursed machine will be prevented from working at all. Just you, a lone liberty guerrilla, in a peaceful, bloodless, mini-revolution of conscience, can drive a dagger into the soft underbelly of the beast and set someone free. Talk about focus of effort! There can be no better time spent in the struggle to directly stop oppression.
April 25, 2011
Don Doig [send him mail] is a co-founder and vice president of the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA). Stewart Rhodes [send him mail] is an Army Airborne veteran, former member of Rep. Ron Paul’s DC staff, a 2004 graduate of Yale Law School, and is the founder and president of Oath Keepers.
Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
NOTE FROM STEWART:
Sincere thanks go out to Don Doig, Founder of FIJA, for inviting me to co-author this article, and to Lew Rockwell, of LewRockwell.com for publishing it at his site. The jury is a critical institution. It is as fundamentally critical to liberty as is the militia, and as is our right to bear arms. As the saying goes, we have “four boxes of liberty”: the soap box (freedom of speech and assembly), the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box. We must guard each of them with equal resolve and jealousy, for they truly are our great shields against tyranny.
Denial of the ancient right of jury trial was one of the causes of our Revolution, as was clearly stated in The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, written July 4, 1776 (commonly known as the Declaration of Independence), where the Founders condemned the King “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury” and for claiming the power “to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws” (courts of admiralty). Jury trial was an ancient right of Englishmen, considered by our Founders to be a non-negotiable right of the colonists, for which they were willing to fight and die.
And yet, even now it is under relentless assault, both by willful judges and prosecutors who deny the full right and power of the jury, as discussed in our article, and and also by willful Presidents who illicitly claim the power to strip Americans of this fundamental right by designating us “unlawful combatants.” First Lincoln, then FDR, and now Bush and Obama have claimed the power to apply the international laws of war to American citizens, precisely as if we were foreign enemies in wartime, and try us by military tribunal rather than by jury in a civilian, Article III court. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Our forefathers fought a bloody Revolution against such outrageous claims of power, and yet here we are, facing the same claim of power to subject us to a jurisdiction FOREIGN to our Constitution – the international laws of war. And under this doctrine, Obama also claims the power to simply assassinate us, if he thinks it necessary for “national security.”
We must stand like a rock and refuse to give even a shred of legitimacy to any such outrageous claims of power, regardless of which party is in the White House. And if the political and legal elites persist in this claim of power, we must resist it with as much fire and defiance as our Forefathers. The right to jury trial is our last shield of liberty, and our last resort short of an appeal to arms and to the God of hosts. Remember that, and act accordingly. – Stewart Rhodes
Main NOVA Victim Information Section
How to Get Help After a Vicitmization Main Page
Other Resources: Links, Phone Numbers, and Readings
Research and Practice in Victim Services:
Perspectives from Education and Research
Ann Wolbert Burgess
Over the past several decades our awareness of the magnitude and the trauma of crime victimization has increased considerably. The costs incurred by society include medical and psychological services to aid victim recovery, the apprehension and disposition of offenders, and the invisible climate of fear that makes safety a paramount consideration in scheduling normal daily activities. In addition to the monetary costs associated with sexual victimization (see Prentky & Burgess, 1990; 2001), the impact of such abuse on the victim has been well-documented (Crowell & Burgess, 1996).
This presentation takes a historical perspective and review of the intersection between research and practice in victim services, particularly in the area of child sexual exploitation and abuse and the crisis in the Catholic Church of clergy abuse, among other areas. It will review rape victimization and victim services and some of the major contributions of researchers and practitioners in the understanding of the aftermath of victimization.
The Anti-Rape Movement: The Beginning
The women's rights movement in the nineteenth century was focused on the legal recognition of women to secure their rights to vote, to own and control property, and to participate in public affairs. In the twentieth century the movement focused on confronting restrictions of women's personal lives. Analysis of these restrictions began from "consciousness raising" groups (CR), a new organizing tool of the women's movement whereby women discussed their experiences and problems of being female in a modern society. Often described by men as hot beds of radical feminism, the reality was simply attending such a discussion group was the most assertive act many of the women of that day were capable of taking. But it was within the supportive environment of the CR groups that women found the courage to share private experiences never before shared, such as incest and rape (Largen, 1985).
These anecdotal disclosures of former victims had a profound effect on their listeners. The revelations represented an unprecedented breakthrough of the silence that had surrounded the topic of rape for centuries. The act of rape has been an inherent part of women's lives throughout recorded history, a theme of literature, poetry, theater, art, and war.
Police departments and rape crisis centers first began to address the crime of rape in the early 1970s when little was known about rape victims or sex offenders. The issue of rape was just beginning to be raised by feminist groups and the 1971 New York Speak-Out on Rape had been held. Susan Brownmiller (1975) wrote the history of rape and urged people to deny its future. At this time. the general public was not particularly concerned about rape victims; very few academic publications or special services existed; funding agencies did not see the topic as important; and health policy was almost non-existent.
The anti-rape movement began to attract women from all walks of life and political persuasions. Various strategies began to emerge, one of them being the self-help program now widely known as the "rape crisis center." One of the first such centers was founded in Berkeley in early 1972, known as Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR). Within months of the opening of the Berkeley center, similar centers were established in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia. Hospital-based rape counseling services began in Boston and in Minneapolis. Centers soon were replicated and services flourished. Although volunteer ranks tended to include a large number of university students and instructors, they also included homemakers and working women. The volunteer makeup usually reflected every age, race, socio-economic class, sexual preference, and level of political consciousness. Volunteers were, however, exclusively women. Among the women, the most common denominators were a commitment to aiding victims and to bringing about social change (Burgess & Frederick, 2002; Largen, 1985). As Susan Brownmiller noted (1975, 397), the amazing aspect of the proliferation of the grass-roots women's groups was that such an approach to the problem of rape had never been suggested by men: That women should organize to combat rape was an invention of the women's movement.
In retrospect, the history of the rape crisis centers in the United States has been one of enormous struggle. The struggle was to overcome indifferences, apathy, changing social trends, and lack of stable resources, yet a struggle willingly engaged in from the belief in the rightness of the cause; a cause which, despite the struggles, had its share of successes. Feminists identified a social need and a way of responding to it. Centers, begun without role models to adopt, became role models themselves for other crime victims, specifically for battered women and their children. Though never having reached the ultimate goal of eradicating rape through social change, they nonetheless were the instigators of social change essential to the rights of women (Largen, 1985; Burgess & Frederick, 2002).
Rape Law Reform
Laws greatly shape public opinion and attitudes. Legislation in the form of law reform can be both instrumental and symbolic. Such was the case with rape-law reform, especially in conveying the concept of rape as an injurious, if not always physically damaging, act. Changes in rape laws helped to influence attitudes both within the criminal justice and general communities, although some would argue that jurors/citizens still inclined to view rape in morality terms rather than criminal terms.
United States criminal rape laws were derived from British common law. Three elements needed to be proven: carnal knowledge of a woman by force and against her will. Two influential legal theorists were 17th-century jurist, Lord Chief Justice Matthew Hale and the Edwardian-era scholar, John Henry Wigmore. Hale's belief that rape is "an accusation easily made, and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, though ever so innocent" was reflected in both American jury instructions and standards of proof (Hale, 1947, 634). Similarly, Wigmore's concern about sexually precocious minors and unchaste women who fantasize about rape give rise to the corroboration doctrine, and influenced such practices as the routine polygraph examination of victims (Wigmore 1970). Though neither man's assertions were supported by empirical data, they received wide spread endorsement by legal bodies. As a result, United States law would reflect a concept of rape as a sexual rather than a violent offense and would impose a vast array of safeguards against false accusations by the turn of the 20th century (Largen, 1988).
The need for rape-law reform was clearly noted by women's rights movement who were encouraging former victims to speak publicly about insensitive and indifferent treatment they had experienced in the criminal justice system. These disclosures fostered a recognition for systematic change that women activists felt must begin with the law itself. To this end, movement activists organized to develop a rape-law reform agenda, solicit public support for reform, and present their case to state legislators. While the political climate was favorable to these citizen-initiated efforts, it was a growing presence of women and sympathetic men within the legal and lawmaking professions that reduced most of the resistance to change. A review of rape-law reform by Largen (1988) suggested, among other things, that in most states, social concepts of sexual assault were changing more rapidly than legal concepts. Again evidence of the radical shift in the concept of unacceptable behavior.
A review of rape law reform in Canada held that the 1983 reform addressed some of the key issues relating to sexual assault, but that critical issues still remained. These issues include underreporting of sexual assault, low founding, charging and conviction rates; the status of rape-shield rules; and the defense of honest but mistaken belief of consent. Collective and social actions on the part of women's groups and education are seen as important policy tools to counter sexual assault (Tang, 1998).
Financial help came from Congress. In response to a rising crime rate and the growing community concern over the problem of rape, Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland introduced a bill in September, 1973, to establish the National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape. The purpose of the bill was to provide a focal point within the National Institute of Mental Health from which a comprehensive national effort would be undertaken to research, develop programs, and provide information leading to aid for the victims and their families, to rehabilitation of offenders, and, ultimately, to curtailment of rape crimes. The bill was passed by overwhelming vote in the 93rd Congress, vetoed by President Ford, and successfully reintroduced. The National Center was established through Public law 94-63 in July, 1975 and the chair of the first advisory committee to the new center was a nurse.
By the late 1970's, the battered women's movement became an extension of the anti-rape movement and focused on male violence against a domestic partner. Violence emerged as a public health issue with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop's convening of a workshop on Violence and Public Health in 1985. The closing of the National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape, however, in the late 1980s left a void for funding until 1994. Again, organized efforts were needed to keep rape crisis centers operating and to lobby for governmental funding. The importance of violence against women as a national problem was once again recognized by Congress in its 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as part of its Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and by President Clinton's establishment of an Office on Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice. A Panel on Research on Violence Against Women was established by the National Research Council in 1995 to fulfill a congressional request to develop a research agenda to increase understanding and control of violence against women. This report (see Crowell and Burgess 1996) highlights the major literature on the scope of violence against women in the United States, the causes and consequences of that violence, the interventions needed for both women victims of violence and male perpetrators, and funding to meet research goals.
History of Psychological Trauma
The term "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" came into the official nosology of the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 with the publication of the third edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The history of the development of this term is believed to date back to an account of Merlin of King Arthur's court. He was said to be have been a wild man who went away to live alone in the woods for some years because he was affected by the sounds and sights of terrible battle. He avoided people and lived as a hermit for several years, only to return refreshed and with his special powers. In 1666, Samuel Pepys described his intense emotional reaction to having observed the London Fire.
The theme of traumatic memories haunting people after experiencing overwhelming terror has been a theme in literature from Homer (Shay, 1991) to Shakespeare's Macbeth Act V, iii. By the late 1850s, Briquet suggested a link between the symptoms of hysteria and childhood histories of trauma. During this time, a small Anglo-Saxon literature emerged documenting responses to accidents (e.g. "railway spine" after train accidents) and war trauma (soldier's heart). The relationship between trauma and psychiatric illness, however, only began to be explored in the last two decades of the nineteenth century when neurologist Charcot lectured on the functional effects of trauma on behavior (see a review by van der Kolk, Herron & Hostetler, 1994).
Charcot's student Pierre Janet undertook one of the first systematic studies of the relationship between trauma and psychiatric symptoms and delivered a major paper at the Harvard Medical School in 1906. Janet realized that different temperaments predisposed people to deal with trauma with different coping styles. He coined the term, "subconscious", to describe the collection of memories that form the mental schemes that include the person's interaction with the environment. He suggested it was the interplay of memory systems and temperament that made each person unique and complex (van der Kolk, Herron & Hostetler, 1994).
Although one of Freud's earliest published works was Studies in Hysteria, he later shifted from a PTSD paradigm of neurosis to a paradigm that centered on intra-psychic fantasy. In a later work, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, he once again addressed the issue of traumatic neurosis and looked at trauma as disequilibrium. The history of the development of PTSD was intensified around war and combat stress. Despite such recognition, though, systematic inquiry into the phenomenon of posttraumatic stress was remarkably late in coming. It was not until 1980 when the condition was determined to be a separate and distinct diagnostic category by the American Psychiatric Association (see Everstine and Everstine (1993), Everly (1995), Wilson (1995), Briere (1997), O'Brien (1998) and van der Kolk, Herron & Hostetler (1994) for a further discussion of this history).
Sexual Abuse of Children
In 1857, Ambroise Tardieu, one of the foremost medicolegal experts of his day, published the first known forensic book on sexual assault of children. During the second half of the nineteenth century, statistics were published in France, including the fact that between 1858-1869, 9125 people were accused of raping children (Bernard, 1886).
Outcome Indicators for Child Sexual Abuse. According to victims and clinical research provided by experts in the field of child sexual abuse, the following statement is axiomatic: Sexually abused children constitute a very diverse group of individuals who suffered abuse and about whom few simple generalizations apply. Perhaps Frank Putnam (2003) states is best when he says, "Childhood sexual abuse is a complex life experience, not a diagnosis or a disorder." Citing a ten-year review of empirically-based research, Putnam notes that a broad range of adult psychiatric conditions have been clinically associated with child sexual abuse. The problematic behaviors and neurobiological alterations may include dysfunctional sexualized behaviors including hyper or hypo sexuality, early pregnancy, HIV risk-related behaviors; altered affect regulation such as depression, suicidal preoccupation, explosive or inhibited anger; transient alterations of consciousness such as flashbacks; altered self-perception including helplessness, shame, guilt, and self-blame; altered relationships with others such as persistent distrust, withdrawal, failures of self-protection, and rescuer fantasies; altered systems of meaning including loss of sustaining hope, hopelessness and despair; and somatization (physical symptoms).
Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.
Considerable media attention has focused on sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests and members of religious orders. Although the number of abusive priests (approximately 4% of all priests) was suggested by a research study conducted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice (2004), sexual abuse by religious leaders represents a particularly serious betrayal of trust, termed a "tragic wound to the Church" (Hanson, Pfafflin, & Lutz, 2004).
Historically, the Church typically addressed abuse as an internal matter. Abusive priests received sanctions and treatment from specialized Catholic service agencies, with relatively few of the offending priests becoming involved in the criminal justice system. In recent years, the Catholic church reportedly implemented policies promoting disclosure of cases of abuse, and sexual offenders among the clergy were increasingly directed toward external agencies.
Although the recent revelation of clergy sexual abuse suggests an unusual and recent epidemic among the Catholic church, the historical record suggests this difficulty has plagued the church over centuries. The recent effort of investigative reporters and adult survivors alleging sexual abuse by clergy, has led to an increased public awareness of the extent of the illegal sexual activity occurring in the church. Opinion polls of Catholics in the United States have evidenced a critical view of the Church's administrative response to the crisis. Despite continuing press coverage and civil/criminal litigation, research on priest offenders is virtually non-existent (Isely, 1997).
Substantial evidence exists, in the historical and anthropological record, that the sexual use of children has a long history (Ames & Houston, 1990). Early church history evidences a fear, by church authorities, of sexual contact between men and boys. In 305 A.D., the Council of Elvira prohibited "corrupters of boys" from ever receiving communion (Berry, 1992; Quinn, 1989). St Basil, a monk, issued strict penalties as he showed his concern about the sexual attraction of an adult monk toward his young male pupils. This concern appeared justified, writes Isely (1997), considering the love poems written by tenth and eleventh century monks titled, "Paederastia" (Boswell, 1980; Quinn, 1989). In the early middle ages, the Benedictine Order frequently practiced "child oblation" whereby a parent would donate their male children between the ages of five and seven to the monastery (Quinn, 1989).
The Vatican, in response to the church crisis, convened a conference in April 2003, involving experts in the assessment and treatment of sexual offenders along with senior members of the church administration. The external experts were asked to summarize current scientific knowledge concerning sexual offenders, and to respond to questions originating from practical decision faced by the church (e.g., how can potential child molesters be prevented from being priests? How effective is treatment for known offenders?).
The Proceedings of the conference (Hanson, Pfafflin, & Lutz, 2004) state that sexually abusive priests share many features with other child molesters, but differences were also noted. As with other child molesters, deviant sexual interests and alcohol abuse are common among abusive priests. In contrast to other child molesters, priest abusers are typically older, better educated, and less antisocial (although more antisocial than other priests). Whereas the victims of child molesters are typically girls, priests typically abuse adolescent boys (Hanson, Pfafflin, & Lutz, 2004).
The limited available research suggests that the factors that predict recidivism among abusive priests are similar to the factors found among other sexual offenders, e.g., narcissistic and antisocial traits, deviant sexual interests, prior sexual offenses. The sexual recidivism rates of abusive priests (approximately 5% after 10 years) appears somewhat lower than the rates observed for other child molesters (15% - 25% after 10 years) (Hanson, Pfafflin, & Lutz, 2004).
Contemporary Issues and Research Opportunities
New issues for study continue to arise in the 21st century. The research on three such issues present opportunities for both practitioners and service providers to further explore.
Adult Male Victims. The overwhelming numbers of adult male victims coming forward to disclose (delayed by decades) their abuse by clergy has challenged the victim services community. Many rape crisis centers were unprepared to treat this new population of victims and thus a major research area is identified.
Media Reports of Traders and Travelers. Traders and travelers are the latest group of offenders to prey on children. A review of 225 media reports of such crimes illustrates the use of the Internet for child molesters to both gain access to erotica and child pornography as well as to child victims (Alexy, Burgess & Baker, under editorial review).
The Kobe Bryant Rape Charge. Attitudes toward rape and what constitutes rape have been studied from a variety of ways. The Kobe Bryant case - because of its celebrity status - provides an opportunity to study myths about rape in the 21st century as compared to the 1970s. Students were asked their opinions as to the importance of 17 issues and the outcome of the case (Holmstrom, Burgess & Boersma, under editorial review). The importance of the findings have three major implications. First, the students placed great faith in the expertise and accuracy with which clinicians and others collect and record physical evidence. Second, students believed that discrepancies between interviews represented real discrepancies in an account as opposed to the reality that people often have different styles of interviewing and that might result in different answers. Third, the students placed importance to the alleged victim's emotional problems indicating that this negatively affected her credibility. Clinicians and services providers can implement these findings into their practice, e.g., paying attention to detail and accuracy in recording their findings, using an interview protocol, and reviewing the myths and realities of mental illness and victimization reports.
In summary, a partnership between academic researchers and service providers presents an opportunity to advance the science of the field of victimology. This presentation suggests an understanding of the history of several aspects of the field provides a foundation to continue its commitment to addressing the needs of victims.
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Controversies and Developmentsn in Victimology Research
Laura J. Moriarty Virginia Commonwealth University
Controversies in Victimology stem from at least four areas: “(1) a misunderstanding of the criminal justice system; (2) a general lack of knowledge regarding the criminal justice system, (3) too narrow a focus or perspective of victimology” (Moriarty, 2003, 117), and (4) a lack of evidence-based research on the controversial topics. While there are many controversies that can be discussed, this presentation will begin with a brief discussion of the controversial issues presented and outlined in the book entitled, Controversies in Victimology (Moriarty, 2003). Since the controversies have not yet been resolved and because there are numerous controversies that were not included in the book, I will present five other controversies that merit review as well. Two of these controversies will be presented in detail providing a description of the controversy, briefly outlining each side of the issue, presenting the most recent evidenced-based research on the topic, and concluding with possible ways to reconcile the debate. Thus, the goals of this paper are as follows: I intend to
· outline and relate major controversies and recent developments in victims’-related research which can inform good victim-service practices,
· identify areas of need for future research in victim services based on identified gaps in current knowledge, and
· demonstrate and relate the importance of applying research findings to improve the efficacy of programs for victims and survivors of crime and violence.
Controversies in Victimology
In the text with the same title, there are several chapters that address controversial issues in victimology. As way of introduction, I will summarize a few of the controversies.
The controversial issue of balancing criminal victims’ rights with criminal defendants’ rights focuses on whether there really should be a “balance” between these rights, and if that balance can only be achieved by a constitutionally guaranteed set of rights. Orvis (2003) argues that those who see the balance as necessary, and thus advocate for a federal amendment, do so because:
· A victim’s rights amendment will alleviate the trauma felt by crime victims who have traditionally been forgotten and revictimized by the CJ System;
· A victim’s rights amendment will give the crime victim standing equal to the criminal defendant to appeal unjust holdings in criminal cases;
· A victim’s rights amendment is necessary to counterbalance the rights granted to criminal defendants by the Bill of Rights, so that both are on equal footing in a court of law (Orvis, 2003, p. 7-10).